IRVING, Texas – A single point separates the top two teams in the 2022 American Athletic Conference preseason media poll as the Houston Cougars edged out the Cincinnati Bearcats as the American’s preseason favorites.
Houston received seven of a possible 24 first-place votes to finish with 243 points in the poll, while Cincinnati finished second with 242 points, despite the Bearcats’ 10 first-place votes. UCF got seven votes for first place and finished third with 225 points.
Houston and Cincinnati were 16-0 combined in regular-season conference play last season before the Bearcats won 35-20 over the Cougars in the American Athletics Conference championship game. 2022.
Houston, which was ranked No. 17 in the latest 2021 national polls, was ranked favorite in The American for the first time since 2016 after the Cougars went 8-0 in conference and 12-2 overall, capped by a 17 -13 win over Auburn at the Birmingham Bowl. Head coach Dana Holgorsen’s team will be led by veteran quarterback Clayton Tune, who threw for 3,546 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2021, and wide receiver Nathaniel Dell, who led the American in the receptions (90), receiving yards (1,329) and touchdown catches (12) last season.
Cincinnati made history last season as the first American team to reach the college football playoffs as the Bearcats won their first 13 games of the year before falling to Alabama in the semis. – CFP final. The Bearcats finished the season ranked 4th nationally, but Luke Fickell’s team will have to make up for losing an American Athletic Conference record nine players who were selected in the NFL Draft, behind only Georgia and LSU nationwide. Linebacker Deshawn Pace, a 2022 Butkus Award contender, is expected to be the mainstay of the Bearcats defense after his 94-tackle season last year.
UCF, which has won a conference-record four American Athletic Conference titles, is expected to be in the running again in head coach Gus Malzahn’s second season in Orlando. The Knights went 9-4 last season, winning six of their last seven games, including a 29-17 victory over Florida in the Gasparilla Bowl.
SMU finished fourth with 187 points as first-year head coach Rhett Lashlee will have quarterback Tanner Mordecai back in the fold. Mordecai set an American Athletic conference record with 39 touchdown passes in 2021.
Memphis, which has had eight straight seasons at .500 or better, edged East Carolina for fifth place in the preseason poll. The Tigers will be led by quarterback Seth Henigan, an FWAA All-America freshman who threw for more than 3,300 yards as a rookie. The Pirates, who have won five of their last six to close out the 2021 season, will feature fifth-year starting quarterback Holton Ahlers and running back Keaton Mitchell.
The American is coming off a historic season in 2021, highlighted by Cincinnati’s appearance in the College Football Playoff. It was the sixth time in eight seasons of the CFP era that The American had been featured in the New Year’s Six. Seven American Athletic Conference teams were selected for bowl games, while conference teams were combined 3-1 in postseason games that were played.
The American also had three NCAA Consensus All-America selections (South Florida running/returning specialist Brian Battie, Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner, Houston cornerback/returning specialist Marcus Jones ), trailing only the SEC and the Big Ten among FBS conferences. The American won the Paul Hornung Award (Jones), Jim Thorpe Award (Cincinnati cornerback Coby Bryant) and consensus National Coach of the Year (Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell), and tied his best performance in the NFL Draft with 19 players. selected in 2022.
2022 American Athletic Conference Pre-Season Media Poll
|Team (votes for first place)||Points|
Pre-season poll notes
The favorite in the American Athletic Conference’s preseason media poll won the conference title three times in the league’s first eight seasons:
|Year||Favorite||End of the conference||Champion|
|2014||Cincinnati||t-1st||UCF, Cincinnati, Memphis|
|2017||South Florida||t-2nd East||UCF|